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Law enforcement puts focus on Internet safety



Many of today’s children and teens are totally immersed with texting, Facebook, Twitter, Myspace and other social networking sites. While social networking may appear harmless to many of these young people, it can open to the door to child predators and other dangers.

As part of efforts to keep kids safe on the internet, the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office supports National Internet Safety Month during June. Washoe County Sheriff Michael Haley encourages parents to educate themselves about the potential dangers of social networking and to make sure that they are aware of what their children are doing online.

“While the internet can be fun and useful, it can also be used to stalk, cyber-bully and commit identity theft,” Washoe County Sheriff PIO Deputy Armando Avina said. “Many young people do not realize the potential consequences and danger of displaying personal information online, giving stranger’s access to their school, home or work information.”

A Pew Research Center and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children survey of 10 to 17-year-olds showed that 34 percent of them had posted their real names, telephone numbers, home addresses or the names of their schools online for anyone to see. Forty five percent had posted their dates of birth or ages, and 18 percent posted pictures of themselves.

“Allowing kids to go online without supervision or ground rules is like allowing them to explore a major metropolitan area by themselves.” Deputy Avina said. “The Internet, like a city, offers entertainment and educational resources, but also presents the risk of coming across websites containing adult or violent images, false information or worst , coming into contact with sexual predators. Kids need help navigating this world. Parents need to be aware of what their child is doing and talk openly with them about internet safety,” Deputy Avina said.

Internet safety tips for children:

* Keep social networking site profiles set to “private”

* Do not give out personal details such as address or school information

* Turn off your webcam after using it so it cannot be hacked

* Do not send anyone inappropriate photos of yourself or anyone else

Safety tips for parents:

* Discuss the dangers of the internet with your child and set ground rules to follow

* Review safety/parental controls on your computer, search engine, email, and instant messaging

* Monitor your child’s online activity and the sites they visit

* Keep the computer or laptop in a common area, not in your child’s bedroom

The Washoe County Sheriff’s Office celebrates 150 years of proud service and community partnership in 2011. Sheriff Michael Haley is the 24th person elected to serve as the Sheriff of Washoe County. His office continues to be the only full service public safety agency operating within northern Nevada and is responsible for operating the consolidated detention facility, regional crime lab, Northern Nevada Counter Terrorism Center, Internet Crimes against Children Task Force, court security, service of civil process and traditional street patrols.

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